Firestorm in the Caribbean over Mehul Choksi drama
The case is currently being heard by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, as the Indian government prepares to deport him to New Delhi. The case will be heard in court on Wednesday.
The alleged arrest of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi has become a significant political issue in the Caribbean, with opposition parties and leaders accusing the Dominican and Antigua and Barbuda governments of involvement.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, on the other hand, has refuted claims that his administration was involved in the diamantaire's alleged abduction.
“The appearance of Indian-born Mehul Choksi in Dominica, amid claims that he was held captive in Antigua, beaten, ferried to Dominica, and brought into the country against his will, illustrates yet again the severity to which government departments are involved in organised crime under the influence and/or direction of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's regime,” said Lennox Linton, the leader of the opposition in Dominica's House of Assembly.
He even suspected the Indian government of being involved in the situation. The parliamentary leader claimed that the issue is damaging the judiciary in the eastern Caribbean because of the "obvious collaboration" between the governments of Dominica, Antigua, and India.
He ordered an investigation into police, immigration, and customs officials' infractions of the law, saying they "who openly authorised to 1) help the operators of the St Lucia-based schooner; 2) arrest Choksi on suspicions of unlawful entry."
He also ordered that the participation of Dominica's ministers in Choksi's illegal transfer to Dominica be investigated.
The St Lucia-based yacht on which Choksi was brought to Dominica on May 23 declared three crew members and two Indian passengers to the authorities on departure from Antigua, according to reports.
Choksi's name was omitted from the list. Later Choksi came to Dominica without a passport.
Choksi was imprisoned while the two Indian passengers were quarantined, only to be quarantined five days later, on 28th May.
Meanwhile, Browne ruled out the possibility of his government being involved in Choksi's capture in Dominica.
“I can certainly state that neither we were involved in, nor were aware of the purported kidnapping. We would have urged the Indian government to deploy a jet here if we had been. Even though it would have been against his constitutional rights, we would have taken him up and repatriated him.
“I am not saying that,” PM Browne said in an interview on Monday, “but it would have been a safer choice to breach his constitutional rights here and deport him to India rather than kidnapping him.”
He went on to say that he had never met Choksi in person. He further dismissed claims of Indian pressure, claiming that the Indian billionaire had never given his party any political funding.
Vere Bird III, a member of the island's first political dynasty, which provided the country two prime ministers (Vere Bird and Lester Bird), says he saw the two in October 2020 near Jolly Beach (Antigua).